Senior citizens find them to be a boon to spend their leisure hours

The sun is slowly rising and the birds start chirping. The first signs of dawn are slowly taking over the city, and Vandiyur Lake Walker’s Park has already got its first set of visitors for the day.

The 1,800-metre-long walking track in the park is frequented by people of all age groups, who can be seen walking or jogging in early mornings and evenings, even after sunset. People can be seen on the patches of grass next to the track stretching or warming up before a jog in the mornings.

Tamizharasi, a senior citizen who frequents the park for her walk, says parks like these are a boon for the people like her who like to enjoy peaceful evening walks. “I’ve been walking here for the past six years. The air is fresh, thanks to trees, and occasional evening breeze makes it a pleasant experience,” she says.

“It will be very beautiful after the monsoons when Vandiyur Lake will be filled with water,” she adds, pointing to the now dry tank. “The Vandiyur Lake Walker’s Park Association was formed with a view to promoting walking in the mornings and evenings among people of different age groups,” says its secretary Sheik Dawood.

This park, which is under the Public Works Department, is maintained by the Association.

“Anyone can come and walk in the park and the entry is free. The membership is voluntary and our members pay an annual membership fee of Rs.300 which goes towards the upkeep of the park,” Mr.Dawood says, and adds that collections and donations from the public are also used for the maintenance of the park.

“No entry fee is charged even though we have been given permission by the district administration to charge a nominal fee,” he says.

There is also a walkers’ association in the Eco Park at Tallakulam which is frequented by the residents of the surrounding areas for morning exercise. This park, maintained by the Corporation, does not charge an entry fee either.

“We have cleaning staff who come and keep the park clean and ready before the first walkers come in at 5 a.m,” says a park official. “From 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., people of all ages come for walking. A lot of them are senior citizens who find it comfortable to walk in the levelled pathway,” he says, pointing to the neat, level cobbled path inside the park that runs to a distance of 2.5 km.

At the end of every month, a meeting is organised for the members at Vandiyur Park by the Association, which the general public can also attend.

“We get a speaker and hold discussions on important issues,” says Mr.Dawood.

The Association organises health camps once in three months. The Eco Park at Tiruparankundram, which was built at a cost of Rs 3.78 crore, was inaugurated on September 28 last year. “Close to 2,000 people visit the park during the weekends and we have special attractions like the musical fountain and a playground for children,” says S.Suresh Kumar, site supervisor of the park.

The skating rink at Vandiyur Park is one of the first of its kind in the city. Chakra Roller Skating Association has been conducting roller skating classes in the park for the past six years.

“Now, we have over 500 regular trainees and one of our trainees made it to the nationals,” says M.Chockalingam, who runs the skating association with a team of coaches.

“It is an upcoming sport and since the rink is in a park, it has high visibility and attracts more students,” he adds.

The Thirupurakundram Eco-Park is spick and span without a trace of litter. “Most visitors know that the park belongs to the temple and has been built on temple land. So they respect the sanctity of the place and refrain from littering or dirtying the place,” says Mr.Kumar.

Patrons are encouraged to plant saplings on special occasions at Vandiyur Park.

“We had a family which planted a tree last week for the birthday of a relative,” said a member of the Association, which is planning to import trees of different species to plant them in the park by the year-end to increase its green cover.

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